In my day job I do science, and something I’ve learned in my years is that our perceptions of the world around us don’t always correspond with what is actually happening. I always try not to determine “truth” based on my anecdotal observations alone—I want to see hard data.
This perspective was proven correct yet again when I looked back at response times for my submissions. I’ve been feeling for a while that my stories had been languishing in slush piles (I mentioned it here). This feeling was also reinforced by some fellow writers who expressed similar thoughts. So I decided to look at the actual data over the weekend, and it turns out that I was wr-wr-wr—not as perceptive as I would hope.
I track all of my submissions using The Grinder (and Duotrope, before they decided to become a pay-to-play site), so I have data on every story submission I’ve made back to the middle of 2009. I compiled the response times by submission date and plotted them:
Obviously there’s a lot of variability in response time, but most responses are under the ~50 day mark, which is I think is reasonable. The other apparent thing is the response time is not trending up at all as I had thought (I ran a few formal statistics, too, and they also support no change in response time). In fact, looking at the data per quarter, response times for stories submitted in the first two quarters of 2013 (average of 10 and 30 days, respectively, not including pending submissions) have, on average been lower than for stories submitted in the last half of 2012. The third and fourth quarters of 2012 produced slow response times (average of 54 and 59 days respectively, the highest for any quarter back to 2009), which likely explains my current perception of long waits in 2013. The slow responses from stories submitted in 2012 were lingering into this year and finally getting resolving 4, 5, and 6 months after they were submitted. Since January 2013, only two of my submission have gone longer than 100 days, and both are still pending (but one will get resolved soon if I don’t hear back on my second query….grrr).
So I guess my perception of longer responses times in 2013 was not correct, but was an artifact of longer waits from submissions made in the second half of 2012. Since January, my response times have been less than the last half of 2012, and otherwise not different from other quarters. Hopefully 2012 was only a blip, and my submissions will continue to move through the slush in a timely manner.